MYSTERY BOX (Directions)

This activity leads students to ask better,higher  level questions. I use it with PWIM /Inquiry. I have a box that I have decorated that says MYSTERY BOX on it. I have a photograph posted on the wall and I put an item in the box that is similar to the photograph. For example I have a winter photograph with Inuit people, husky dogs, a sled and fur. Once a week I choose an item, hide it in the box and have the children figure out what it is. For the husky dogs I used a beanie baby. For a winter coat I used a photo from the catalog. The children write in their writing notebooks. We call it Mystery Box Monday.

  • Not a guessing game.
  • Use a word that they can see in the photograph
  • Use process of elimination (not guessing) by using attributes like spatial, function, descriptive and temporal clues. (teach your students these terms)
  • Must have 12 correct responses before even attempting to name object.
  • Once students think they can name the object they must try to describe it more specifically.
  • Write down clues under yes or no section.
  • After the object has been identified turn clues into sentences.
  • Use sentences to create a descriptive paragraph about the object.
  • Try comparing mystery object to object in picture.
  • Always model your paragraph.  (I write mine while they are writing theirs using the same clues)

Below is how I make  the Anchor chart to work through with class. They then use the information to construct a descriptive or compare contrast paragraph. The first few times we write the paragraph as a class. Once they are comfortable with this process they write their paragraphs in pairs or individually.

MYSTERY BOX MONDAY

yes

no

Example: husky dog-as the students ask question,s I can only say yes or no.  I write the answers on the chart  to help with the writing later. When they reach number 12,I ask them what they think it is and to explain why. Often they are pretty sure by number 6. I do not let them guess. I tell them if they think they know, they need to ask questions that will describe it to see if they are right or if their thinking has changed. I then pulled the beanie baby dog out of the box and we talk about what is the same or different. It is a great time to use a Venn diagram.

MYSTERY BOX MONDAY

yes

no

  1. it is soft
  2. has fur
  3.  black
  4. pulls things
  5. you can pet it
  6. it is strong
  7. has a tail
  8. eats food
  9. can lick with its tongue
  10. runs fast
  11. has sharp teeth
  12. alive
  1. can’t eat it
  2. isn’t made of wood
  3. not red
  4. not blue
  5. not bloody
  6. not dead

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